Old Nuts

By Arthur N. Gottlieb, LCSW, CSA

 

Earlier today I cleaned out the kitchen cupboard and discarded all the stuff I wasn’t sure about anymore. It was comforting work for a cold mid-winter day in New England.
 
Long hidden behind some cans of tomatoes, I found some half-used bags of nuts that I decided to donate to the front yard wildlife fund.
 
The scattered nuts showed up clearly upon the freshly fallen snow. Almost immediately the blue jays sounded the call, and they along with resident squirrels were soon working the now dotted field of white.
 
I stayed on the front porch for a while watching the squirrels gather up the nuts. There was one nearby who was facing me, sitting up with his furry white belly, munching away.
 
I was impressed that this little guy was able to gather up a lot of nuts and store them in his cheeks until they were bulging.
 
Soon after, he ran up a Norway maple and settled into his nest, where his cargo of old nuts would provide for another wintry day less fortunate than this one.
 
And while breathing the crisp air, it struck me with irony… that a difficult week of caregiving had led me to employ the very same method as my little gray friend.
 
For several days I had steadily absorbed offensive remarks by those in my care who, despite my best efforts, remained uncooperative, insulting, and controlling.
 
And, with my own reactions contained, it was my job to respond with empathy and care.
 
I believe I did this well…but my cheeks got so full - they still hurt a little.

Arthur N. Gottlieb, MSW, CSA is a social worker in Connecticut working with seniors and their families.

 

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